In this blog, =mc‘s Assistant Director Yvette Gyles shares 5 ideas for improving innovation, and how these steps are already helping organisations such as ActionAid.
We’re good at coming up with ideas in my organisation – the creative bit – but they never seem to get off the drawing board. Where are we going wrong with our innovation?
Here at =mc, we understand the importance of creativity and innovation both for us and for our customers. That’s why we work with a wide range of organisations including RNIB, ActionAid, Diabetes UK – and even the RSC – on techniques to find new solutions, new ways of thinking and new skills that will enable them to do what they do even better. The world just keeps
on changing, and the only constants are tighter budgets and fewer resources to stretch further. Carrying on ‘doing the same’ is no longer an option.
So how to meet this challenge? Job one is to get creative – generate new ideas or improve existing ones. Job two is to be innovative – take your ideas and turn them into reality.
On a recent training programme I asked participants how they could improve innovation in their organisation. Between them they came up with five ‘steps’:
1. Protect the seedlings – innovation starts with planting the seeds of ideas. The danger at this point is it’s all too easy for someone to say ‘That won’t work here’ and kill the seedlings off before they’ve had a chance to grow and perhaps show some potential. Allow the seeds time to sprout – see Step 2 – and remind the would-be idea exterminators that the changing world means ideas that haven’t worked previously may work now. Don’t let a killer phrase get in the way of a potentially brilliant solution.
2. Make the space to develop ideas – coming up with ideas can take no time at all. In fact, making a mind map or having a brainstorming session should be done in a matter of minutes. The barrier we often face in organisations is taking the time to weigh up the risks of going ahead, and finding out how to make the idea work despite those risks. Only then can you properly decide whether it’s worth taking through to implementation. This is all about focusing on those ideas that are important and can make lasting change if given proper consideration.
3. Carve out a space – trying to be innovative at your desk, surrounded by piles of paper, a growing inbox and at the mercy of every visitor and distraction is simply not going to work. Instead, why not take leaf out of ActionAid’s book, and create a space dedicated to innovation, where you can build on ideas to make practical, workable solutions. A direct result of =mc’s Creativity and Innovation training programme, ActionAid’s Innovation Room is very small, but has all the tools they need – magnetic wipe-boards, pens and a world map they can draw on. There are no chairs, just stand-up only tables. This space is for interactive and focused discussion and decisions, not formal, sit-down meetings. Carve out the time, and then the space to discuss ideas in depth.
4. Take the test – adopting new ideas, can mean taking on risk. Consider testing out ideas through pilots or smaller projects first. This will give you more data about the likely success – and impact – of the innovation. And then…
5. Don’t fear failure – failure is just as important as success. If an idea isn’t working, great! Now you know. Don’t be afraid to let it go. Move on to the next idea, and keep trying.
If you try these steps and are still struggling to innovate, or even to create, do get in touch to speak to one of our Learning & Development consultants on +44 (0) 20 7978 1516 or contact us via our website.
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Clare Segal, Director